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Qing Han is my friend. And I think to you, our readers many of you will feel the same way. The girl is friendly! Qing’s positivity is palpable throughout her work and throughout her online presence as well. She’s an artist who has achieved what for some people would be beyond their wildest dreams. She has reached the highest levels of art, she has a great job working in Animation with other talented people, lives in one of the great cities of the world (Vancouver) and she has one of the largest Art social media followings in the world. Who wouldn’t want that?
Qing is a strong, intelligent, and talented independent woman. What Qing has achieved is rare, it’s actually fairly unusual to reach such success, she’s part of that lucky 1-2% that really make it in the art game. And she deserves every iota of acclaim and credit she has gotten. Even though at a casual glance Qing may seem to be living a charmed life, nothing could be further from the truth. Qing has suffered tremendous medical setbacks and has had to have several potentially life saving surgeries. She’s lucky to be alive. We are lucky to be able to enjoy her work, and to befriend her. Never forget that.
I first became aware of Qing’s work around 2006-2007 during the early days of Deviant art, she was still studying in art school when her work started gaining a larger and larger following. she was one of the first artists who’s work was really hitting hard and going viral, even before the prevalence of social media like it is today. She’s been building that following for over 10 years now and recently has hit the enviable 1 Million followers mark on Instagram. Qing is a star. In the interview that follows she balks at this and seems to get shy and bashful about it, she never did art for these reasons, as she mentions below, art is a form of therapy for her. She needs it to live.
A few years ago on Facebook she added me or I added her, and gradually we formed a friendship, generally geeking about art, music, movies, anime, tv, or games. Qing knows her stuff and has passionate tastes, dislikes and beliefs, and she will chat with you for hours about it. There are a few artists that I have become friends with largely because of my involvement with Urban-Muse or just art in general, of these artists some of them are bonafide celebrities within the art circles, and many of them are in this issue you’re reading. Qing is one of those, as well known as she is and even with her millions of adoring fans, she’s just Qing to me, my friend, and I feel blessed that Urban-Muse has brought her positivity into my life and I just hope I can be a good friend to her as well because she certainly has been to me.
Urban-Muse.com: You’re a Chinese/Canadian artist, I feel like this is really important to your evolution of your art. You also one time mentioned that your parents also had the choice of immigrating to the United States but decided on Canada instead. This is a huge question, but can you talk about your feelings on being an artist with this background?
Qing Han: The fact that the Canadian college tuitions for a bachelor’s degree are much less expensive than US ones helped me a lot with convincing my parents to let me go into art without a lot of fuss. I was able to sort of threaten my parents that I could just get a loan from the government and do stuff on my own haha. (For reference, my tuition was around $8k/year, whereas from what a US-art-college friend told me, a similar program costed her $15k/semester, so around $30k/year.). Although, nowadays there are so many resources and classes online haha. But for me, my parents needed that bachelor’s degree, at the very least.
Urban-Muse.com: Your social media presence is huge, you actually have the largest following of any artist profiled in this issue, with Tom Bagshaw being a close second. You recently reached 1 MILLION followers on Instagram, can you comment on this? Years ago when you started getting serious with your art did you ever think you would have literally a MILLION people following your work?
Qing Han: Oh, of course not. I’m still having a hard time comprehending it. I try not to think about it to be honest… it’s pretty daunting and I’d have to sort of watch what I say all the time now… and of course put up with a lot of people who hate me because they, like me, don’t understand why this happened, hahaha. I just wanted to be like…medium-well-known. Like, a hundred thousand people was already a lot to me and I was pretty happy with that. But now it’s just crazy. Of course, numbers only matter so much, so I’m still not gonna think too much about this and just keep drawing xD~
Urban-Muse.com: Which social Media Network is your favorite? Which has been the most important?
Qing Han: I think they all have their pros and cons, but I like Instagram the most simply because uploading there is the easiest. Also, I like doing final image adjustments there, and the app’s inbuilt adjustment stuff is pretty neat. There’s also the simul-post to Facebook which saves me some time while posting onto two social media places.
Urban-Muse.com: What is your artistic process like? What are your favorite tools?
Qing Han: My favourite is probably a combo of watercolor and gouache at the moment, though for convenience, the easiest is pencil with digital editing and painting afterwards, which I do enjoy doing. I used to be much more into digital painting though, but these days I work professionally painting backgrounds so I’ve turned more to traditional mediums in my spare time (which is what I post online.)
Urban-Muse.com: One of the striking things about your social media presence is just how engaging and approachable you seem to be. You seem to try and respond to nearly every comment you get from around the world in a friendly and helpful way. You might not even think much of it, but it actually is fairly unique. And is probably largely responsible for your great success. Why do you think this is?
Qing Han: Oh, is it? I often think I’m still not responding enough xD. It’s hard to respond to everyone though, for sure, and I absolutely understand people who don’t at all. I just like talking to people… that’s it. Hahaha~ If someone starts an engaging conversation starter or points something out, I’d try to respond if I’m not busy (or procrastinating work…)
Urban-Muse.com: With over 1 Million followers I think it’s fair to officially christen yourself as a bonafide “Art Star.” I would say you even have “Celebrity” status. But anyone who knows you, knows that is not the way you behave at all. You are very down to earth. Have you ever thought of yourself in those terms?
Qing Han: Hahaha, noooo I don’t think I’m a star at alll. I love stars though; the shiny ones, not people ones xD. I’ve had several people call me their “art idol” and, not that I dislike the term, but it makes me feel uncomfortable….as in…well, I don’t think I deserve to be anyone’s idol at all in terms of skill or even concept-wise. There are so many good artists, master old artists who should be learned from, and not me. I still make a lot of mistakes and stay too much in my comfort zone, etc, which are not good… I’m just too tired and lazy these days to change that part, but yeah… not sure if I made sense there though…
Urban-Muse.com: What would be your advice to an artist who wants to improve their artwork?
Qing Han: Studying the basics. That’s my response to everyone. The basics of anatomy, composition, color theory, perspective, etc. Get books, go to life drawing classes, don’t just look at tutorials online (there are some really bad ones out there that beginners can’t tell are bad). Life drawing sessions is probably the single most important thing for me which improved my posing and ease of just drawing what I can see in my head. I used to go 5 days a week in the first two years of my college years. I also went to the zoo a lot to practice animals. Master studies also help, but don’t just copy. Think about how the master painters handle certain parts of their painting and maybe why, and how you can apply it to your own work.
Urban-Muse.com: You’re currently working at Titmouse Vancouver. For our readers who don’t know what Titmouse is, they are an animation studio responsible for shows like Metalocalypse, SuperJail, The Venture Brothers, Moonbeam City and many more. What has it been like working there? What was your favorite project/contribution?
Qing Han: Titmouse Van is super duper friendly; just the atmosphere there is great (which I heard isn’t true for many other studios. Titmouse is the only studio I’ve ever worked at though, so I don’t have personal experience at other studios). My favourite show I worked on was probably Turbo FAST, though Motor City was also fun. I learned a LOT working on Turbo.
Urban-Muse.com: Many Artists are probably dying to know how to increase their social media following, even Urban-Muse can even learn from this, what would be your advice to artists hoping to build their following?
Qing Han: Hmmm… I don’t know how everything got this big. I personally think it’s just a lot of luck hahaha. But I don’t think people should simply build a following for the sake of building a following; I mean, Urban-muse is different as it’s another platform, but in terms of doing art… because you’d need to conform to a style that people like, and that sort of thing. For example, my style is pretty anime, and anime is a popular style, so anime artists will get a generally bigger following, but if you’re not into anime, I don’t think you need to force yourself to change it to get a bigger following? I mean, if you (not you per se, but ‘you’ in general) really want a HUGE following, you could just do anime-fanarts all the time, but if it doesn’t make you happy, would it be worth it? I dunno….I don’t suggest it, simply because personally I just do things that makes me happy and that’s the end of that. Of course, if money’s your end-goal though, that’s always a route.
Urban-Muse.com: You have such an overwhelming positive presence on Social Media. But from time to time, people who are just overtly negative appear. These type of people seem to thrive on trying to tear people down, whether it be from jealousy, or something else. How do you deal with these people? What would be your advice to our readers who might experience this? (This is a big focus of this issue)
Qing Han: Ignore and move on. Especially if they’re obviously being rude and/or fucking with you, it’s easier and will be much less work to delete their comment block their ass (or on facebook and youtube, just hide them. It’s the best cause they’ll have no idea they’ve been hidden from the page and wastes time shouting into the void hahahahaha) and move on, because some people thrive on the negative attention and the best is to not give them any. It’s also better for everyone’s sanity xD.
Urban-Muse.com: This question is fairly serious. Some of your followers who have followed you closely will know, you have suffered from some fairly serious medical conditions. Despite all this adversity and challenge, you still create wonderful art and maintain your positivity throughout. How the hell do you do this? What would be your advice to our readers who might be going through something traumatic themselves? How do you persevere?
Qing Han: I actually think I managed to produce better stuff when I was depressed hahaha. I think this sort of feeling is great fuel for emotional art, and it just feels good to sort of blarrgh feelings onto a page. Art therapy is a real thing hahaha.
Urban-Muse.com: You often mention you have studied the Violin since you were very young, and achieved a high level of skill. In terms of Psychological/mental development do you think this rigorous training and discipline has helped improve your mind and in some ways helped you become a better artist?
Qing Han: Oh I definitely learned a lot of discipline from that. After being forced to practice violin, practicing art is just FUN. Studying anatomy, doing master-studies, everything is just really much more fun than the violin, hahahaha. I used to practice 2-4 hours a day painfully, so I had no problems going to life drawing classes 3 hours a day and then go home to study anatomy a bit more.
Urban-Muse.com: If you could talk to your younger self, knowing what you know now, what advice would you give them?
Qing Han: Study more anatomy and form for art. I wish I had, honestly hahaha.
Urban-Muse.com: What are you plans for the future?
Qing Han: Hmm, for now I just want to keep drawing and maybe get a little healthier…after I beat the new Zelda that’s taking up all my time right now though. Hahahaha~
Urban-Muse.com: Thankyou so much Qing for creating your wonderful work and sharing it with the world. And thank you so much for being a part of this issue.
Qing Han: Oh no problem at all, thanks for letting me ramble here~
You can follow Qinni’s work here: